Successful completion of any project is certainly not without its challenges. There are a million tasks that have to be handled at the same time – time, money, and resources never seem to be enough!
Project managers need to have a clear idea about the various project management life cycle phases so that they can break down activities into smaller parts. Understanding the phases of the project management lifecycle can help in organized planning, resource allocation, performance monitoring, and maintenance.
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Let’s take a detailed look at the five main stages of a successful project management life cycle so that you know what needs to be done before moving on the next phase,
Important Phases of Project Management Life Cycle
This is the first phase of the project management life cycle, and it defines the purpose of the project in a broad sense. The project manager needs to have a meeting with the client to understand the goals and objectives. Feasibility analysis can also be conducted to check the financial viability of the project. This will help you understand whether the project is worth pursuing or will be a drain on resources.
Important stakeholders such as senior management, vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders can decide together whether the project should be given the green signal. Once the project is approved, all team members should be briefed on the project, and assigned specific goals. Project managers should ensure good team collaboration between members so that they can work in a conducive and healthy atmosphere.
This is one of the most vital stages of the project management life cycle for successful completion as it lays a solid foundation for the project. During the planning stage, project managers lay out a roadmap that serves as a blueprint for execution. The roles and responsibilities of all team members are elaborated so that they are accountable for specific tasks. The detailed plans that are laid out will be a guiding force that will determine the project timeline, costs, risk, and quality.
A well-written project plan needs to be comprehensive in all aspects. It should cover key areas such as operational requirements, manpower projection, budgeting, and possible risks. Resources such as tools, equipment, software systems, money, and space requirements should be clearly listed out so that managers can make suitable arrangements. Here are some important pointers to include in your project plan,
- Scope Statement: This is a holistic document that contains the business need, goals, and final deliverables of the project. It gives a bird’s eye view of the project plan.
- Gantt Chart: This is a visual chart that clearly depicts the proposed project timeline.
- Communication Plan: A document that defines the communication structure and breakdown of reporting channels between stakeholders. It should also include the key content that will be shared between all project team members, and adapt the best communication approach.
- Risk Management Strategy: This will mention all the potential risks that may impact project success, and discuss strategies for mitigation.
- Milestone Calendar: This breaks down the project goals into smaller deliverables so that they can be tracked at all stages.
This is the phase where team members take action and deliver the project through efficient performance. It includes resource allocation, status reviews, and creating performance reports. Initially, a ‘kick-off’ meeting is generally held so that all project team members can start executing tasks assigned to them.
The project manager remains in charge of the final execution. He may hold weekly meetings to ensure there is no deviation from the scheduled timeline. Clear agendas for each meeting will make sure that there is no time wastage, and all required points are discussed.
It is important to remove all unnecessary distractions during the execution phase and keep the morale of the team extraordinarily high. An engaged team will solve all conflicts and overcome any obstacles; hence keeping workers motivated is crucial to the final project success.
4. Performance Monitoring
Though it ranks as the fourth stage in the project management life cycle, the monitoring phase continues right from the initiation. Team leaders need to monitor the performance of members to make sure that all tasks are on the right track. They also need to update all stakeholders about the progress and keep the lines of two-way communication open with vendors, suppliers, and the client.
Project managers need to check the costs involved so that the project does not overshoot the estimated budget. Since there may be unexpected delays due to unforeseen challenges, project managers may need to amend schedules and timelines to ensure that the project remains on the right track. These changes should be communicated to the client and stakeholders so that they are aware of the new timeline, and there is no scope for miscommunication.
This is the last stage of a project management life cycle, and it signifies the completed project. All the contracts with contractors and vendors who worked on tasks are formally closed. During the closure of the project, a post-mortem meeting is held to analyze the highlights, give due recognition to team members, and understand what improvements can be made in the future to prevent failures.
Even though the project may be over, project managers may have certain tasks to handle such as clearing bills and creating a list of things that were not completed. All such tasks must be closed, and all documents related to the project should be stored at a single place, so that they can be accessed at a later time if required.
Every project is unique and has different requirements. There is no perfect solution or plan that can help you successfully deliver a project. However, understanding the various stages of a project management life cycle can help in following an established methodology with purposeful precision.
At the start of a project, there always seems to be an overwhelming amount of work. Simplify complex activities, break down tasks into small parts, and keep the morale of your team at an all-time high to keep things on track. Remember to make the most of your successes and learn from your project failures – it is never too late to implement change and transform your project management strategy!
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